Thursday, April 30, 2009

Find Me

Visit The Tricycle Community

[I must admit, it was fun making my first badge even if the badge is a small bit of advertising for the magazine.]

Why do some guys do this on a date?

Setting: The lobby of a movie theater

Characters: A man and a woman wait. They are on their second date.

Exposition: The pair arrive early for a movie and decide to wait in the lobby and eat some popcorn. The man is on-call and must have his phone turned on during the film.


Man: "Oh, I should set my phone to vibrate."
Woman: "That's a good idea."
Man: [Turns his phone to vibrate and puts it in his pocket. Smiles luridly and says:] "I lodged it up next to my sensitive bits."
Woman Thinking: [I will never go out with him again.]

Friday, April 24, 2009

Do you know about Zoom?

If you search your own name on Zoom:

you may be surprised by what you find: I know I was.

When I entered my name, I found a three jobs listed on my employment history with a photo attached of me taken informally when I was enjoying my time in Hawaii. The information in the Zoom profile included some of my past employment history and was unclaimed, which meant that anyone who wanted to claim my history and photo could have logged in to the site and done just that.

I don't like the idea that information about me, including a photo, is let loose on the Internet when I am unaware of its existence.

Is this legal? I claimed my information on Zoom, but wasn't sure if I wanted it published. I didn't have a choice in the matter.

How does this happen? I am concerned.

Birth Control Malfunction

20 to 29 year-olds at risk
LJR – April 24, 2009

About half of all pregnancies in the United States each year are unintended according to a February 2009 report from the Guttmacher Institute.

This means that more than three million pregnancies in America each year are a surprise.

The last U.S. census found that seven out of 10 unintended pregnancies happen in young women between the ages of 20 and 29 according to a National Public Radio report on “Why Accidents (The Pregnant Kind) Happen.”

The average heterosexual American woman who wants only two children spends about 30 years of her life concerned with avoiding an unwanted pregnancy.

The intellectual process of choosing to be responsible about reproductive health involves wading through a list of oral contraceptive side effects that include bleeding between periods, breast tenderness, nausea and vomiting and weight gain.

The vaginal ring is left in place for three weeks and then removed the last week of the month.

Pills must be taken daily, often at the same time, while the relatively new implant Implanon is about the size of a cardboard matchstick and inserted under the skin of the woman’s upper arm.

The cervical cap is a silicone cap shaped like a sailor’s hat, as described by the Planned Parenthood Web site, and is inserted into the vagina and over the cervix.

The Guttmacher Institute, which studies sexual and reproductive health worldwide, also reported that of the 66.4 million American women of reproductive age (13–44) in 2006, more than half (36.2 million) were in need of contraceptive supplies and services.

Why don’t men have an equal smorgasbord of pregnancy prevention options to protect their partner from an unwanted pregnancy?

A vasectomy/reverse vasectomy for men who wanted to start a family would be an ideal family planning choice from the female perspective, but get real. It’s clear that American society and the medical establishment expect women to be the responsible party in the bedroom.

While I believe in taking ownership of my sexuality, I can only imagine a culture that supports my decision. My vision would look something like this.

It’s a sunny morning when Americans wake up to discover that societal norms regarding sexuality have been transformed. A non-coercive, non-exploitive, mutually agreed upon creative exploration of body, mind and spirit occurs only when people freely agree they are ready for sexual intercourse.

The process of agreeing involves taking responsibility for a partner’s physical and mental wellbeing and selecting a form of birth control together. Parents, friends, churches, the state and the medical establishment all play a supporting role.

Contraceptives are provided to all women and men at pharmacies across the nation at an affordable price and with a smile. There is no shame in purchasing a pack of condoms or emergency contraception.

Alcohol and drugs are used to enhance sexual experiences of responsible couples- not as substances imbibed to promote anonymous drunken hook-ups leading to unwanted pregnancies and STDs. In other words, sexual decisions are made with sound minds and full and honest disclosures. All details of encounters are remembered in the morning.

Abortion is available at all hospitals in the nation and viewed as a normal medical procedure. Doctors who perform abortions are respected. Women feel safe and supported if they choose the procedure.

All men and women are encouraged to keep condoms, lubricant and emergency contraception in the medicine cabinet when they reach reproductive age.

The vast majority of upstanding American citizens realize that religious dogma and abstinence education do not prevent young adult pregnancies. Citizens of all ages are educated about their bodies.

The cultural mindset that reserves sex for marriage disappears.

Judging people because they engage in a normal and pleasurable human behavior is now a thing of the past.

Men and women are socially empowered to practice safe and responsible sex.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Most Precious

I enjoy reading "Tricycle" magazine. The magazine staff blurbs all the soy-meaty parts of books I don't have time to read.

The Buddha said that once we realize that we are the closest and most precious person on Earth to ourselves, we will stop treating ourselves as an enemy. This practice dissolves in us any wish we might have to harm ourselves or others.

–Thich Nhat Hanh, from Teachings on Love (Parallax Press)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Art Washes Away the Dust

"That which is static and repetitive is boring.
That which is dynamic and random is confusing.
In between lies art."

- John A. Locke (1632-1704)
English Philosopher

"Shall I tell you what I think are the two qualities of a work of art?
First, it must be the indescribable,
and second, it must be inimitable."

- Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1914)
French Impressionist

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life."

- Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)
Spanish Artist

"We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth."

- John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)
U. S. President (Oct. 26, 1963)

[I was surfing on the Iowa Area Education Agency (AEA) Discovery Education Streaming web site, when I came across a critical thinking lesson plan titled: "What is Art?" The activity and questions in that lesson plan generate multiple answers and diverse perspectives, a refreshing approach to stimulating the mind. I found the quotes I'm posting titillating.]

Monday, April 20, 2009

Practice Some Metta in Your Life

I joined a community of Buddhist-minded spirits who also enjoy reading "Tricycle" magazine. Lewis Richmond, the leader of the Aging as a Spiritual Practice online discussion group I joined, sent this message to the members. What a great way to begin the week!

As promised, I would like to suggest a spiritual practice for this week, a form of Metta, or Friendliness, practice appropriate to our developing online Sangha. First of all, a little background: Metta (friendliness) is one of four compassion practices common to all schools of Buddhism. These are Friendliness, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy, and Equanimity. Metta can be practiced in various ways, but the way originally recommended by the Buddha in the Metta Sutta is an aspiration prayer whose simplest form is:

May I be happy
May each of us be happy
May all beings be happy

It is important and significant that you address and include yourself in the prayer. You are a being too, and the happiness you seek is the same as the happiness all beings seek.

I also encourage you to smile (or half smile) before and after you recite the prayer. Every Buddhist statue is smiling; there are no frowning Buddhas. Smiling itself is a venerable spiritual practice, as taught by Thich Nhat Hanh and others. We practice not just with words, but with the body.

Try to do this once a day for the next week.

Let’s see what happens! (that was another of the Buddha’s spiritual instructions, in the Kalama Sutta).


Practicing friendliness can make this universe of ours a more blissful place. If you want to join the community, here is the link.

Tricycle Community

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Wallflowers Make Me Cry

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky, Pocket Books: 1999

Multiple Stars

The Perks of Being a Wallflower made me cry. Charlie often cried, and I liked this about his teenage male character. He was ultra-sensitive to his connections to people and the world, and he brought me- as a reader- into his mental space. Charlie took me back to my own high school years and the pain of trying to navigate a world filled with insecurity and self-doubt. Charlie's letters said to the reader that no one is alone with pain, anguish, uncertainty and self-loathing. We all experience these emotions even if we won't admit it. Through an intuitive link to Charlie’s written world, I could empathize with human suffering and our need to question the meaning of life and its purpose. Sadly, adults go through the same motions.

The opportunity to explore young adult literature has opened my eyes to different forms of writing that authors use to tease out themes and exposed me to the vulnerability of body, voice and mind oozing from teenage characters. My literary hero for today is Charlie, the wallflower.

November 12, 1991

Dear Friend,

I love Twinkies, and the reason I am saying that is because we are all supposed to think of reasons to live...

Love always,

Monday, April 13, 2009

Truth according to LJR

Life is managed; Life is NOT solved.

I tell myself this every morning as I set out to manage the challenges that are waiting for me- sometimes in ambush, sometimes in plain sight- and then off I go.

Balancing past, present and future

[Lately I have been thinking about our connections to the past- its hand in the meaningful shaping of who we are in the world today. That's why this reading hit the intellectual and spiritual hot spots in my brain and collided pleasantly with some of these thoughts.]

Grow Forward

Growth means not only continual change and transformation, but also continuity; and it is this continuity that gives an aim and sense to change and transformation. Continuity cannot be achieved by clinging to the past or what is transitory, but only through the conscious direction of our forward march, in which, out of the organic connection with the past, there grows an understanding of the present and a meaningful shaping of the future.

–Lama Anagarika Govinda, from Buddhist Reflections (Weiser)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Celebrate National Poetry Month

Now is the month for readers, public library patrons, school kids, and poets around the country to intellectually dance and sing the praises of poetry.

Because, in 1996, the Academy of American Poets crowned April National Poetry Month!

I pulled this poem out of a bowl at the public library. The note attached to the bowl said:

"Help yourself to a poem..."

What a great idea. I would encourage you to do the same.


Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.

The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night-

And I love the rain.

- Langston Hughes

Oh, This Moment

This Moment: I am always struggling with this moment.

Dharma practice means dealing with what is happening in our mind at this moment. Instead of dreaming of conquering future attachment, let’s deal with the craving we have right now. Rather than drowning in fears of the future, let’s be aware of the fear occurring right now and investigate it.

–Thubten Chodron, from Taming the Mind (Snow Lion Publications)

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Emotional Closure

Forgiving the Son; Forgiving the Self

Jay McGraw, the author of the self-help book Life Strategies for Teens, had almost no professional credentials he could tap into while writing his book about how to assist teens cope with life’s traumas other than his family ties.

His father is Philip C. McGraw, a.k.a. Dr. Phil.

Despite that fact, I did find some redeeming concepts in the chapter "Life Law Nine: There is Power in Forgiveness."

Here is a passage worth sharing from the book.

“The best thing for you is to forgive. When you forgive a person, you thrive in spite of him or her. You blossom. As the old saying goes, ‘Living well is the best revenge.’ You are the only person who has to know about this forgiveness because this is something that takes place within you and for you.”

McGraw goes on to write that, “What you want is emotional closure. You want to be able to say honestly that you have no unfinished emotional business left with the people you have been focused on. To be really free, you have to forgive.”

When anger, hurt or resentment flow out of human hearts: love, forgiveness, light, hope and optimism flood in to take their place. I'm nurtured with all the emotional vitamins and minerals my body craves. The warmth of sunshine physically floods me with this positive energy, and I like to visualize upbeat life forces charging through my veins when the sun’s rays penetrate my skin.

I feel really free today!

Light Bulbs from Life Law Nine - Paraphrased by LJR

1. Realize that emotional wounds scar like physical wounds.
2. Remember that withdrawing emotionally can affect you physically.
3. To hold on to previous hurt poisons all potential relationships.
4. Forgiveness is a choice that is beneficial to you.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Underpinnings of the Global Economic Crisis

Reflections on the spiritual underpinnings of the global economic crisis
April 3, 2009 - LJR

In Christian Sunday schools across the United States, boys and girls learn a golden rule from the Book of Luke that goes something like this: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Simple and concise, but do most world religions, including Christianity, lack spiritual direction on how to incorporate ethical practices and moral principles into the workplace?

Host of American Public Media’s radio program Speaking of Faith, Krista Tippett, interviewed eight experts working in the fields of religion, science, industry and the arts on the subject of the spiritual underpinnings of the global economic crisis.

Swiss banker, Hindu, and follower of Jesus, Prabhu Guptara, and religious historian, Martin Marty, encouraged listeners to examine Christianity’s role in capitalistic corporate America and to explore the disconnect between Christian morals and the American business model.

Both Guptara and Marty emphasized that many world religions, including Christianity, lack spiritual guidelines for incorporating morality, integrity and ethics into the workplace. In other words, Christianity united with the capitalistic economic system practiced in the United States, will not generate an ideal climate for facilitating a prosperous and healthy social and economic global environment.

Due to the decisions made in large part by businesses in the United States, over 53 million people living in poverty worldwide are experiencing the added pain of coping with the devastating effects of a global recession according to a February 12, 2009 report from the World Bank.

“New estimates for 2009 suggest that lower economic growth rates will trap 46 million more people on less than $1.25 a day than was expected prior to the crisis. An extra 53 million will stay trapped on less than $2 a day. This is on top of the 130-155 million people pushed into poverty in 2008 because of soaring food and fuel prices,” the World Bank report states.

Christian teachings stress the glory and jubilation wealthy businesspeople are supposed to experience in heaven if they provide for less fortunate members of their community here on earth. Yet these teachings seem to be forgotten in corporate offices and daily business decision-making practices in the United States when blue-collar jobs and pensions are cut drastically while corporate executives’ bonuses are paid religiously and without fail.

Valuing companies on the basis of their economic fundamentals without regard for human consequences is taught in nearly every MBA program across the country. It’s a principle that’s solidly hardwired into America’s economic belief system- a belief system that goes unquestioned until a mortgage crisis ensues and confidence levels in Wall Street crumble.

The bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the near collapse of investment bank Bear Stearns were a product of greed and excess in the Christian nation of the United States. A worldwide recession is the price the global community must pay for linking their economies to the American business model, a model that operates on promoting self-interest and profit motives as guiding belief structures.

The 2009 annual meeting of the United Nation’s Commission on the Status of Women focused on the global economic downturn and its impact on women worldwide. Some participants at the conference said the financial crisis could undo ten years of progress in a single year.

This is because women in Asia, Africa and Latin America are often the first to be fired during a recession when global demand for textiles and imported goods decreases in countries such as the United States, Europe and Japan. Incidents of domestic abuse and violence against women also increase as financial worries play out brutally on the home front.

The Lord states in the Book of Jeremiah that he will send his destroyers to punish evil rulers and unjust kings because woe is the price leaders will pay if they build their palaces through unrighteous and unjust means.

Thus commands the Lord in Jeremiah 22:3, “Do justice and righteousness, and deliver the one who has been robbed from the power of his oppressor. Also, do not mistreat or do violence to the stranger, the orphan or the widow…”

The Christian God punishes but also forgives, so if this is the case, will God forgive repenting chief financial officers and managers of investment banks for their sins?

According to “The Tibetan Book of the Dead” published by Shambhala Publications, “The concept of sin, for instance, is inevitably associated with original sin, guilt, and punishment, which have no place in most Eastern teachings. Instead, Buddhism looks for the basic cause of sin and suffering, and discovers this to be the belief in a self or ego as the centre of existence. This belief is caused not by innate evil [that simplistic Western dichotomy between good and evil that defines sin] but by unconsciousness, or ignorance of the true nature of existence.”

World religions and spiritual teachings provide powerful tools for deconstructing and critically questioning American business practices rooted in ego, greed, and an unquenchable desire for material possessions. Whether we use these spiritual tools to critique a faulty economic system that got us into this financial mess in the first place or ignore these tools altogether is left to personal choice.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Trapeze Me Sliver Please: I Want to Fly

“A Silver Trapeze” by Alice Schertle

A silver trapeze of my own: I dream of it nightly.
A slim silver bar at the end of a rope I seize
and am lifted, carried, I’m flying above the ground lightly.
A silver trapeze.

Down and around and up on the crest of a breeze
I swoop, I soar through a cloud, hesitate slightly,
then loop the loop like a pinwheel and hang from my knees.

Up through space I race on a bar shining brightly,
touch the tip of a star whenever I please,
kick off from the moon, sweep soundlessly down, holding tightly
a silver trapeze.

About Me

My photo

What do I do? That’s a question with more depth than the deceiving three-word construction would lead us to believe.

I live on planet earth with other folks, and I’m involved in the field of education and learning. I’m a life-long learner with a passion for knowledge and the process of bending bits of ideas into new constructions of beauty.